Oak Ridge, TN

We are starting to work our way north toward home. No hurry, we will take more than a week to get there.

We stopped in Oak Ridge, TN.  It was sort of on the way and not on the freeways. Oak Ridge was a rural, sparsely populated farmland when WWII started.  The Manhatten Project to develop an atomic bomb required lots of working room far from prying eyes and yet not too far from communication, power and transportation.  This area was chosen as well as Los Alamos, NM and a remote site on the Columbia River in Washington. There were many other sites as well, mostly research sites that never get much mention.
The Oak Ridge site had as its main task to produce weapons grade uranium. They had to find ways to transform the raw uranium to the more refined U235 and then concentrate it. This had never been done.  There were several ideas about how to do this and with the urgency of the project, every one got a full on trial. Some never worked in spite of building huge plants to try the concept. Some methods had had millions of dollars invested in building projects before they even figured out how they were going to work. The urgency was so great.
They originally thought there would be several thousand people working there. By the end of the war more than 70,000 people were working and living in Oak Ridge, a city that didn’t exist only a few years earlier. Housing, stores, schools, roads, churches, hospitls, fire depatments, police everything had to be built from scratch. It was more than just a technical and science challenge it was a social engineering project on a massive scale. At the peak of building a new housing unit was being completed every 30 minutes and there was never enough.
There was a nice Science and Energy Museum to visit. Lost of histoical stuff and more than that interesting science exhibits for anyone to enjoy. It was right across the street froma camp walmart where we stayed and next to a post office.
Today, Oak Ridge has about 30,000 people and all of the issues of a smller town.  Aging infrastructue, aging housing, shoping centers that are closed, young people leaving and one major industry.
Still it is a nice looking city. There has to be a lot of smart, well pid folks who,live there which give a city hope.
Sorry, no pictures.  Everything is top secret!
In the morning after a walk to the post office and a couple laps around Walmart we were off to our next stop, Bowling Green, KY.
Roger and Susan

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